April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in the UK!

Bowel Cancer UK... April 03, 2019

Publicized by a number of British NGOs including Bowel Cancer UK, April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Around 41,000 people are diagnosed in the UK each year, making it the fourth-most common cancer after breast, prostate and lung in the UK, while globally, it's the third most prevalent form of the disease.

Bowel or colorectal cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel, and is sometimes colon or rectal cancer, depending on where it starts.

Reported in the Telegraph on 1 April, the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, has revealed he is receiving treatment for bowel cancer, after being diagnosed last October. Despite showing no symptoms – Bowen was suffering "funny pains in his leg and back" when he visited his GP – tests for the disease came back positive.

Bowen's announcement coincided with the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, which aims to educate the public on how to spot the signs. According to a study by Bowel & Cancer Research, almost a third of Britons have never checked their stool for signs of blood, while a fifth are put off by the very thought of doing so. Most under 35s say they Google their symptoms rather than visiting a doctor.

Bowel cancer has featured heavily in the news of late, with several studies linking red and processed meat to the disease. According to research by the University of Oxford, eating four portions of red meat per week can make you 42% more likely to develop bowel cancer, while the World Health Organisation ranks bacon, ham and sausages up with cigarettes as a major cause of cancer.

While public perception often links it to the elderly, this is a common misconception, says Professor Sina Dorudi, consultant colorectal surgeon at The Princess Grace Hospital. "Typically, patients will be between the ages of 40 and 70, but I also regularly see patients in their 20s and 30s. The ratio of men and women I see for colon cancer is equal, however men tend to be more susceptible to tumours in the rectum."

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
The symptoms of bowel / colorectal cancer can include:
• Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
• A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
• A pain or lump in your tummy

Bowel cancer charities suggest that most people with these symptoms DO NOT have bowel cancer, as other health problems can cause similar symptoms. However, if you find that you have one or more of these, or if things just don't feel right, they suggest you to make an appointment to visit your doctor.

According to the NHS, the main causes of bowel cancer are:
• Age – almost 90 per cent of cases occur in those over 60.
• Diet – heavy consumption of red and processed meats, as well as a low-fibre diet can increase risk.
• Weight – the disease is more prevalent in those who are obese or overweight
• Exercise – inactivity increase risk of bowel cancer.
• Alcohol and smoking – both can up your chance of getting the cancer.
• Family history – there is a genetic risk, and having a close relative who developed the cancer under the age of 50 can put you at higher risk. "Screening is offered in this situation, and you should discuss this with your GP," says the NHS.
• If you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease in the colon for more than 10 years, you are at increased risk.

Bowel cancer charities suggest that most people with these symptoms DO NOT have bowel cancer, as other health problems can cause similar symptoms. However, if you find that you have one or more of these, or if things just don't feel right, they suggest you to make an appointment to visit your doctor.

Zanolife: According to Mayo Medical Laboratories: “Men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer should be screened at regular intervals beginning at age 50, continuing until age 75. Individuals with certain high-risk factors (African-American race, inflammatory intestinal disorders, family history of colon cancer, obesity, diabetes, poor diet) may consider earlier screening strategies.”


Zanolife offers fecal occult blood test (FOBT) stool analysis screening for colorectal cancer as standard in the majority of our Annual Health checks. The FOBT is a simple laboratory analysis of a stool sample.

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